Sniper Elite 3 review: staying on-target

The third Sniper Elite definitely hits the mark, even if it's a bit shaky.

While Sniper Elite hasn't exactly been the type of series to grow on players, it's managed to attract a cult-like crowd of sniper devotees, people capable of plugging some poor sap from 50 yards out while using the environment to their advantage. The original game was a pleasant surprise, and V2 wasn't half bad either, despite some limitations to the design. Now we have Sniper Elite 3, a game that really opens up what the model is all about, even though it still occasionally bows to the convention of other action games.

Nazis, but… not?

Sniper Elite 3 focuses on a soldier sent to Africa to clean up both German and Italian soldiers occupying the area. It's like a Nazi movement, though Sniper Elite 3 never officially acknowledges it. It's a loose conceit that's put in place for you to do what you best, and that's kill a lot. The general action tactics are nothing new to the series, but suit the need when it comes to sending enemy soldiers to their demise. The real challenge comes with sniping itself, as you're able to manage for trajectory and hold your breath to make sure each shot comes off just right. The developers at Rebellion really nailed this aspect of the game this time around, despite occasional frustration. There were times I swore I had a guy in my sights, only to watch him stumble from the bullet, rather than succumb. At least the game sets the stage for letting you off these guys however you please. You could play in the typical action sense, although that means dealing with soldiers who know your location and react accordingly. It's fairly efficient, though, especially when you use your Walrod silent pistol, or good old fashioned brute force with a melee death.

Stealth and sniping are your friends

Though you can go in guns-blazing, Sniper Elite 3 was built for stealth. You'll benefit greatly from using items in the environment to your advantage, mainly to mask the firing of your shots. Your sniper rifle is loud, after all, and all it takes is one shot for soldiers to figure out where you are. This is where the techniques that the series grew upon come in handy, as you can wait for larger vehicles to pass to plug someone from a distance, or use a distraction like an exploding truck to wreak havoc from a different direction. The sniper shots are the best in the game, as the entire proceedings stop for a cool "follow the bullet" effect, from where you fire your gun all the way to reaching its intended target. The after-effect, showing just what damage the bullet does internally, is a very cool one, even if it gets repetitive.

Just a heads up, this is gonna hurt

Bigger room to roam

Sniper Elite 3's level design is greater than the previous games, as there's a lot more room to cover and more enemies to bring down. The lush settings of Africa are a nice change of pace for the series, and the detail and frame rate are fairly solid, if not quite perfect. It can be buggy, particularly with soldiers you kill that run into walls. It's like their poorly animated corpses try to pop back to life. While the big levels will make a difference for some, they can also take some time to traverse through. Some levels can take up to an hour or two to complete, mainly due to the soldiers you're facing off against. We wouldn't mind this so much if they managed to show off more smarts. All too often, they run out in the open, making them easy pickings for your rifle. Some smarter enemies show up later in the game, but it would've been nice to see them sooner.

The other modes

Along with a single player campaign to test your worth with, Sniper Elite 3 also has multiplayer, where rival snipers can compete against one another. This mode had some connection issues, but once you get a match working, it can be a fairly good cat-and-mouse sort of affair. Each player needs to try to kill the other before they can be targeted. There's not much variation, though, just kill-or-be-killed. Co-op also adds an extra degree of strategy to Sniper Elite 3, as you can work alongside a fellow player to complete each missions and tag certain targets. The interchange really pays off, especially when you're running sparingly low on ammunition and health packs. It never hurts to have a partner on hand.

A snipe hunt worth partaking

The somewhat ridiculous bugs and some slight repetition leave Sniper Elite III just short of joining the elite action pack alongside other games. In itself, it's still a pretty good experience for those who like to leave their mark from a distance. Final Score: 6 out of 10. This review is based on a review copy provided by the publisher. Sniper Elite III is available now for PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. It has been rated M for mature.

Robert Workman was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

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